Its Bloody Better: Harry Snape and Time Paradox @veritygrahams
The Sorting Hat

A/N: I do not own Harry Potter

Thank you for the ongoing support and reviews for this story. I am proud I am managing to publish on a more regular basis. I really hope you enjoy it. I worked hard on my very own Sorting Song for this chapter, so I would love to hear what you think of that.

I am thinking of changing the title. Bloody Better was based on one comment Ron made in an early edition of an earlier chapter. It doesn't pertain to the overall story. I would love to hear ideas.

The Sorting Hat

Morfin Gaunt did not give the warm welcome to Hogwarts that Hagrid had. They walked behind the foul-smelling man; he wore long — once green — robes, they were patched, moth-eaten, and threadbare. He barked orders at the children, directing them this way and that. He grumbled, snarled, and seemed to genuinely hate the task that he had been given.

They followed him down a long narrow path through thick dense trees. Hagrid had given them a running commentary, but not Gaunt. He grumbled as they came out in the open and saw a vast black lake. Moored to the shore were many boats, just like Harry remembered.

'Four to a boat,' the gamekeeper said in a snarling voice. 'No more or there will be trouble.'

Ron, Hermione, Draco, and Neville clambered into one boat. It was as Harry was trying to follow that a grimey hand clamped on his shoulder. The pale skin was grubby and dirty and the nails that were long, dirty, and chipped.

'Only four to a boat.' His fingers dug into Harry's shoulder, forcibly steering him to another vote with just one empty space. One that was much less welcoming. James, Dean, and Seamus looked less than pleased with their company.

'Oh great,' Dean mumbled, 'not snivelly.'

Harry looked longingly at his friends as James shoved him to the back of the boat. Harry forced himself to bite his tongue and not react despite the anger bubbling inside him.

Seamus laughed. 'You said he hit you in Flourish and Blotts. He seems like more of a pushover to me.'

Seamus shoved Harry this time forcing him into the stern which dug into his back.

Gaunt the Gameskeeper glared at the boys and called at the students. James, Dean, and Seamus quickly backed off.

'If you're not in a boat, you'll be left behind!' He pulled out a long elegant black wand, thin and spindled. He was surprisingly graceful when he twirled his wand, and gently the boats pulled off into the distance.

As the boat lunged forward, Harry went with it. He collided with James hitting him in the face. When Dean and Seamus pulled him back they shoved him in the gut. As Harry doubled over in pain, he saw the bloody nose that he had unwittingly given James. Harry couldn't help thinking that he had found his new nemesis.

Harry stayed huddled in the back of the boat, alone whilst everyone else seemed enamoured by the sight of the great castle towering over them as they sailed nearer. Harry was more engrossed with the boat his friends were in and feeling left out and pushed aside.

'Heads down,' said Gaunt. His voice was bark-like, always aggressive and shouting, regardless of what he was saying.

The first of the boats reached the cliff, and everyone bent their heads as the tiny boats continued through a curtain of vivid green ivy. The ivy-covered a large opening in the cliff face. The students were carried through the tunnel until they were right under the castle and stopped by an underground harbour.

They all clambered out of the boats. Gaunt flicked his elegant wand and lit the path. They followed faint glowing light until they came upon smooth damp grass, they were right in the shadow of the castle. The aged and hobbling man then led them up a familiar flight of steps and waited at a huge oak door.

'Everyone here?' he asked. 'You two that was fightin', to the front.' He had a cruel gleam in his eye as he spoke. 'There'll be some punishment for you.'

Gaunt then knocked on the huge door three times and the door swung open. A dark-haired witch stood there in emerald green robes. Her stern face was unmistakable: Professor McGonagall.

'You said we had an accident, Mr Gaunt?' she asked.

'It seems that Mr's Potter and Snape have gotten into a bit of bother.'

Harry eyed the boy next to him, he no longer looked proud. Harry had been on the receiving end of the look the Professor gave them both now, and he wasn't surprised to see James looked like he was going to throw up. Harry was just glad he hadn't done anything wrong, that actually, it had been an accident. James had been the one in the wrong.

'If you could call Professor Snape, Madam Pomfrey is busy, I'm sure he can make short work of the nose.'

'Yes, Professor,' he said. His tone was hissing and disrespectful, making Harry wonder why the man worked at Hogwarts at all. Professor McGonagall seemed to ignore the Gamekeeper's tone and led the students into the entrance hall.

He took it all in, the familiar marble staircase, the ornate suits of armour. She then led them into a small empty chamber off the hall. They all crowded around before she addressed them.

'Welcome to Hogwarts,' she said. 'The start of term banquet will begin shortly, but first, you will be sorted into your houses. This is important as your house, while you are at Hogwarts, will be like your family. You will share classes, meals and dormitories with your housemates. Free time is spent in your house common room, The four houses are—'

'Professor, I'm sorry to interrupt. I was told I was needed?' It was Professor Snape, and he looked tall and foreboding.

Harry couldn't help notice that he seemed to have lost some of his "dad-ness". His father's face was stern and unforgiving.

'Ah yes, we have two students who decided to have a little fight on the boat ride.' She motioned to James and himself.

'Mr Potter, off to a good start, I see.' Severus crooked his finger at both boys. 'Mr Snape, Mr Potter, you are aware that fighting is not tolerated at Hogwarts?'

'Yes, Sir,' Harry said, 'but it wasn't a fight. It was an accident.'

Severus' face snapped, looking at Harry, suddenly felt like he was under a lot of scrutinies. His dad was furious. He pulled James Monty Potter closer and pulled out his wand. With a swift flick of his wand, there was a loud resounding crack, as James' nose snapped into place. With another flick of his wrist, the blood that had poured down the child's face disappeared.

'Explain.'

'When the boat jerked forward so did I, I accidentally hit James in the face, but it wasn't a fight.'

'Mr Gaunt said that there were wounds on both parties,' Professor McGonagall replied.

'If this wasn't a fight, how were you hurt?' He pulled Harry closer, beginning to inspect him.

'Dean and Seamus just pushed me back, and I hit into the back of the boat,' Harry lied.

Severus cocked a brow, and Harry felt sure that his father didn't believe him. Instead, Severus checked out Harry's bruised back and then left them to Professor McGonagall.

'I'm not sure what you think about this tale, but I think if there are to be any consequences for fighting, you should decide.' With that, Severus walked out of the antechamber, presumably to the Great Hall.

'I will take your word, Mr Snape. Just this once. As I was saying,' Professor McGonagall continued, 'the four houses are Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw and Slytherin. Each house has produced exceptional Witches and Wizards, and each has its own noble history. Whilst you are at Hogwarts your triumphs will earn your house points and rule-breaking will cause you to lose points. Points are important as the house with the most points at the end of the year will be awarded the house cup. Your house is like your family and we expect you to treat each other as such.'

The stern professor glanced at Harry and James. Harry was given the distinct impression that she didn't believe his story. She then led them through a large set of double doors and into the Great Hall.

Harry remembered the first time he saw the Great Hall. He had been so filled with wonder, the sight of the ceiling, everything illuminated by thousands of floating candles. It had been awe-inspiring. He saw the familiar four tables, each housing students from Hufflepuff, Gryffindor, Ravenclaw and Slytherin. Now it was so familiar, and he wondered if maybe he spent a lot of time here.

Harry couldn't help but glance at the head table; the teachers were sitting, watching. In the centre sat Albus Dumbledore; he looked as splendid as ever in bright magenta robes. On his right was an empty chair, presumably for Professor McGonnagal, who currently was shuffling them into an orderly line. On Albus' left sat Professor Flitwick and Professor Sprout, they were chatting animatedly, and on Albus' right, next to the empty chair, sat his parents.

His father looked very much like the old Professor Snape. Harry watched as he spoke into his mother's ear, he watched as her face stiffened. She glanced his way and as their eyes met, her lips pursed. Dad clearly didn't believe his story. Harry averted his eyes immediately.

The line was finally settled and Professor McGonnagal placed an old hat, on the stool he remembered sitting on last time. Harry had sat there saying "anything but Slytherin, anything but Slytherin". Harry now wondered if he would still be sorted into the same house, he had no desire to utter those words this time. He knew he didn't want to be separated from his friends; from Ron and Hermione. Harry also wanted to make his dad proud. Because of Severus he no longer felt that same aversion. He would have loved to be sorted into the same house and see the look of pride on his father's face. He was then broken from his musing by Professor McGonnagal clearing her throat.

'You will come and sit on the stool, but only when I call your name.' She motioned to the small wooden stool on the dais in front of all the students of Hogwarts. 'I will place the Sorting Hat on your head,' she then raised a beaten and bashed up hat to show the crowd of frightened first years, 'and the hat will sort you into your houses.'

She then placed the hat on the stool. Then, just as Harry recalled, the seam above the rim opened and the scruffy pointed hat began to sing:

I may look rather tatty

It's rather rude to say

Don't judge on looks because

You won't find a wiser hat than me

Baseball caps are boring

Flat caps make me frown

I'm the Hogwarts Sorting Hat

And I've got you lot down

That means that I can see

Everything that's in your head

Don't be shy, I'll have a peek

And sort you in time for bed

Gryffindors are a funny bunch

Such brave and daring folk

They act on each and every hunch

And they do love a good joke

Hufflepuff, I think you'll find

Value most, loyalty and trust

You won't find a group more kind

Or more hardworking and just

Ravenclaws have heads in books

And love to read in little nooks

And always they will spend their time

With those that share a like mind

Slytherins are curious and cunning

They are proud and ambitious

And they'll stop at nothing

To achieve their goals

So pop me on and let me see

And I will show you where you'll be

'Abbot, Hannah,' said Professor McGonagall.

The first girl who walked up to the stool was a timid red-head. Harry remembered her during the Battle of Hogwarts and was glad to see her having a second chance, just like the rest of them.

'HUFFLEPUFF,' shouted the hat, and the table on the far left erupted in cheers.

Professor McGonagall continued to call names and the hat sorted Susan Bones and Terry Boot into Ravenclaw and Mandy Brocklehurst into Hufflepuff.

'Brown, Lavender,' called the professor again.

Lavender was someone that Harry remembered well. She was a pretty girl with long curly blonde hair. She was airy-fairy and ditzy, but also kind, fierce and brave. That was how Harry had remembered her.

'GRYFFINDOR!'

And so the sorting went on. Millicent Bulstrode became the first Slytherin, and Ravenclaw got two more students. Hufflepuff gained Stephen Cornfoot.

'Crabbe, Vincent.'

A huge chunk of a boy walked up to the stool. He had thick chubby fingers and broad shoulders, and he was a shorter stockier build.

'SLYTHERIN!' the hat bellowed.

So far the sortings had been pretty much as expected. It didn't change Harry's wondering though, this only made him wonder if he would still be a Gryffindor, or if the way he saw things changing meant that he would be sorted in Slytherin, as the Sorting Hat had always wanted.

'Finch-Fletchley, Justin,' Professor McGonagall said.

The boy that Harry remembered walked up to the stool. He was very different though. He was thinner, paler and didn't have the same bright smile as he had always remembered the Hufflepuff boy having.

'SLYTHERIN!'

This was certainly different. Harry glanced over at Ron who looked equally concerned. Slowly they edged through the line, watching Justin, the former Hufflepuff walk down to the Slytherin table.

'Finnigan, Seamus.'

Harry watched Seamus, an old friend and now an enemy sits on the stool and he was sorted into Gryffindor. Harry felt more and more certain that he didn't want to end up in Gryffindor.

'Goyle, Gregory,' Professor McGonagall said, continuing to read from the long scroll of names in her hand.

'SLYTHERIN,'

He relaxed knowing that most sortings were going exactly as they always had, and Harry would still have Ron and Hermione with him. Hermione's name was called up next and she walked shakily up to the dais. She sat on the stool and that hat was placed on her head. She sat there for longer than any other, so far. They watched as she gripped the sides of the stool, her bushy hair the only thing they could see coming out of the hat.

The hat shouted her sorting eventually. 'RAVENCLAW!'

The hat was pulled off her head and Hermione looked just as surprised as Harry and Ron felt. She walked purposefully towards the Ravenclaw table. She glanced back at her friends, looking unsure and uncertain.

The sortings continued and for a while they went, as usual, sending Neville Longbottom to Gryffindor and Ernest Macmillan to Hufflepuff. When it was Draco Malfoy's turn to be sorted, Harry was curious. He espoused being different, but the history that they had, a history that Draco didn't know about, made Harry suspicious and untrusting.

'RAVENCLAW,' shouted the magical hat.

Ron leaned into Harry and whispered exactly what Harry was thinking. 'I think we broke the Sorting Hat.'

There were other minor changes to the sortings, both Patil sisters were in Gryffindor, rather than Parvarti being a Ravenclaw. Theodore Nott became a Slytherin, as always, as did Pansy Parkinson.

'Potter, James.'

Harry groaned. He was sure that knowing his luck, he would be stuck wherever James went. The boy was cocky as he strode up to the stool and sat down with an air of expectation.

Harry glanced up at his father who he caught glaring at the child. Harry couldn't help but wonder if that's the way he had looked at him when he was sorted. He had caught looks far worse once they had gotten on each other's bad side. What Harry saw now made him wonder if he had ever had a chance with his father before.

'GRYFFINDOR!' the hat shouted without much surprise.

There was a grin on the boy's face as he walked with swagger to the Gryffindor table, which cheered at his arrival.

'Prewett, Ron,' said Professor McGonagall.

Initially, Ron didn't move, but an elbow from Harry sent him up to the stool. Harry had his fingers crossed, whispering under his breath, hoping that Ron would be in a house that he might get sorted into.

Ron sat there a little longer than last time before the hat shouted out his house, and it was not what Ron had expected.

'HUFFLEPUFF!'

Harry swallowed, feeling more and more alone. He didn't think that he would be in Hufflepuff either, and he didn't think there was anyone in either Gryffindor or Slytherin that would be able to call a friend. He missed Dean Thomas' sorting, though now he seemed to be known as Dean Shacklebolt. He was only roused by his own name being called.

'Snape, Harry.'

Harry walked up to the stool feeling worried and anxious. He sat down and the hat was placed on his head.

'Harry… Snape. Very interesting. Yes, very conflicted. You would do well in Slytherin... just like before.'

'What?' Harry whispered.

'Yes,' continued the hat, 'I can see it all, here in your head. Your views have changed; no "anything but Slytherin" this time, aye. Your heart remains the same though. You are GRYFFINDOR!'

Harry walked down to the table, paying no mind the crazy cheering from the Gryffindor table. He didn't even glance up to see his parents' reaction. He felt doomed, stuck in the same house as James Potter. He didn't relax until he heard someone shouting his name.

'Harry! Here, sit with me.'

It was Neville Longbottom. He wouldn't be alone after all. When he looked up at the teacher's table, his mother was beaming, his father shook his head in what appeared to be mock exasperation.

He barely noticed the last few sortings, but once Blaise Zambini was sat safely at the Slytherin table, his stomach began to growl and he was happy that he would be getting a welcoming feast soon.

Professor Dumbledore rose from his seat, his arms raised to signal the students to calm their excited cheers.

'Welcome,' he said, 'welcome to a new year at Hogwarts. We are, as always, delighted to have you back for another year of stuffing your brains full of useful information. Before we begin our rather delectable feast, I have a few announcements to make.

'Our hardworking groundskeeper and caretaker, Mr Gaunt, wishes to impress the importance of not going for "adventures" to the forbidden forest. He would also like to remind you all that magic is strictly prohibited in the corridors. We are lucky to have such a thorough groundskeeper in Mr Gaunt, so we should all do our little bit to help.

'That being said, let the feast begin!'

The feast was somehow better than he recalled it. There was every single one of his favoured foods. Harry helped himself to chicken and mushroom pie which smelled heavenly and a large side portion of the best corn on the cob he had ever had.

It didn't take long for the conversation to turn to families and friends.

'I'm half and half,' said Seamus. 'My dad's a Muggle, but my mum's a witch.'

'Your dad's cool,' said James. 'We,' he motioned to Dean, himself and Seamus, 'have been friends for ages.'

'How does your dad find hanging out with witches and wizards?' Harry asked. 'My grandad hates it; he never comes round to the house or anything.'

'Well,' Seamus began, 'my dad doesn't spend time with Slytherin's.

'What's that supposed to mean?' Harry asked.

'That Slytherins — like your dad — hate Muggles, Muggleborns and even Half-bloods like me! No wonder your grandad doesn't like you.' James jerked his thumb at Harry as he finished his assessment.

'We're all Gryffindors born and bred, but you, you're just a snake in lion's clothing.' Dean glared at him as he grabbed himself the last slice of treacle tart.

'My mum's a Gryffindor and a Muggleborn.' Harry leaned over the table, his temper finally getting the better of him. 'So how does that work, you know if my dad's so against Muggleborns and all?'

'Everyone knows.' James smirked. 'My uncle Peter told me all about your dad, he was a greasy loser, just like you. Your mum was the only person that was even nice to him, but he still had to spike her with a love potion so he could keep her!'

'Yeah, I heard that he got angry 'cause she wanted to go out with someone else at Hogwarts so he started dosing her. I'll bet my Uncle Kingsley will investigate him when I let him know,' said Dean.

'That's stupid,' Neville said. 'My dad's an Auror and it doesn't work like that. He can't just investigate someone 'cause someone stupid uncle decided to start a silly rumour.'

Harry remained quiet throughout the rest of the meal. He knew they were lies, but it was hard to hear because he had had — and still did if he was honest — doubts about his parentage. Knowing that the information came from Wormtail and made it slightly easier to bear.

He found himself feeling jealous of James Potter who was surrounded by his friends. He remembered his own time at Hogwarts before, and they had all liked Harry. He had been the cool one that everyone wanted to spend time with. He wondered now if that had only been because he was the Boy-Who-Lived.

The trip to Gryffindor tower had been almost uneventful. Percy didn't exactly run a 'tight ship' and seemed to encourage Peeves more than anything else.

'Percy,' Harry asked, 'how did you become a Prefect?'

'Your mum thinks I need responsibility.' Percy shook his head with a cheeky smile in its place. 'The way I see it, I can't live up to Bill and Charlie: an Auror under Mad-Eye Moody and Seeker for the England Quidditch Team, so, why bother?'

'If you tried, you might end up the Minister for Magic?'

Percy laughed at Harry and his insinuation that he could be the leader of Wizarding Britain. While he was a lot more fun and personable, Harry couldn't help feeling sad that the fire that Percy had always had, seemed to have been lost.

They arrived at the portrait of the fat lady. She was tall, regal, very large, and wore an exquisite pink silk gown.

'Password?'

'Umm,' Percy mumbled. 'You know, I'm not sure… I think it had something to do with a dragon?'

The first years laughed at their Prefect's incompetence.

'Caput Draconis,' said a tall, slender blonde girl. 'Percy, you forgot the password already?'

The other Prefect didn't wait for a reply but stormed through the portrait hall.

'I've got her right where I want her,' Percy said with a wink as he followed her through.

Harry stood there in shock, the rest of his classmates overtaking him and climbing through the portrait hole. Eventually, he made it to the common room where the blonde Prefect made all the students sit down in the common room.

'There are rules in Gryffindor house. The Prefects have the power to take points, and we will take them if these rules are not obeyed.

'Firstly, you must obey all the usual school rules. Magic is allowed in the common room and dormitories, however, there will be no curses or hexes and no potion-making. It's dangerous and that's for classes only.

'There's no bullying of fellow Gryffindors, or other students for that matter. Any bullying will be taken directly to Professor Evans. If it's particularly bad, I have no qualms about taking it to Professor Snape!

'All students must be in bed by curfew, I will be checking the common room at ten-thirty and if I have to personally escort you to your dorm, so be it.'

The first years were a little taken back by the girl's intensity. She was ruthless.

'Fiery isn't she,' Percy whispered. 'You gotta love a woman that takes charge!'

Percy then was ordered by the Prefect — otherwise known as Penda Knight — to show the first-year boys to their dorms.

'Yeah, you guys can't get to the girl's dorm. You don't care about that now, but trust me, it's annoying. Here you guys are.' Percy pushed open the door to show them a dorm that already had their trunks stacked in the centre.

Harry ran to a bed in the back corner, still feeling that he wanted to be further away from his dormmates. Neville, thankfully, took the bed closest to him and they both started unpacking and letting out their pets. Merlin immediately found a cosy spot under Harry's blankets to sleep.

Neville was busy feeding his toad. 'First lessons tomorrow, You nervous?'

'A little.' Harry was pulling open his trunk and unpacking his things.

'I'm more worried about homework,' Neville said as he fed Trevor, his enormous toad.

'We can do our homework together, with Ron and Hermione.'

'And Draco,' Neville said. 'He seems like a nice guy. Didn't expect it from a Malfoy.'

'Yeah, I know. He's a good guy, at least from what I remember.'

'Goodnight.' Neville was getting into bed and Harry soon followed suit.

After a long day, Harry was ready to snuggle into the blankets. One noticeable difference to last time was that he actually missed his bed from home. The cushions just weren't the same, the blankets here were scratchy when he thought of the lush soft duvet he had at home. Most of all, he felt a lot less tense in his own room away from kids that didn't like him that much.

A/N: Thanks for reading, don't forget to drop a review, especially if you have an idea for a better overall title could be.

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